To men, the bicycle in the beginning was merely a new toy, another machine added to the long list of devices they knew in their work and play. To women, it was the steed upon which they rode into a new world. “Women and the Wheel” Munsey’s Magazine, May 1896
And so begins Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy. I stumbled across this book while ordering books for our school library. At only 96 pages, it is not a heavily laden book of history, but more of a scrapbookish look at women’s freedom encouraged by a simple machine. There are ample pictures and diagrams showing the women’s movement over time and how and exactly where the bicycle played a part.
Reading this brought me back to something I blogged a while back and also begs the question: what happened to the love of bicycles and women? Where I ride, there aren’t that many interested in bicycles. Guessing, I would fairly estimate 1 to 10 ration or higher when it comes to women and men on bikes. Billions and billions of dollars are spent on diet fads of all kinds, and the majority of that is with the female gender . . . but that is a completely different blog because most people want to look great without putting in the work. I digress. I have noticed more and more women walking where I ride. Many of these women are sauntering along in their workout clothes talking on a cell phone, burning somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 calories and hour! To put that in perspective, that is the equivalent of one cup of blueberries or one boiled egg or one skinless chicken leg or eighteen pistachio nuts. I realize that many are walking to be walking, enjoying the outdoors, but if fitness is involved it should be taken more seriously if the goal is to be fit.
How to start? You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a bicycle on your first try. Buy something used or a cheaper entry bicycle. Your local bike shop can show you how, just do the research first before you step through the door. There are a number of bicycles for different styles of riding and different terrain. Rent a bike or two at the start and try various places to get a feel of what you would like. Ride with friends and/or family. Enjoy your freedom. Happy cycling!